Going back to the original topic, I think that if Indians do hit refresh as described, they are peculiar. I'd love to watch it.
bump because i find this thread interesting
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Ahahah I'm going to say, no, I do not do that. I am Indian. That is one of the stupidest things I have heard, and have never seen anybody I know (Indian) do that... Being as Indians are stuck being the IT specialists, it's important to assume that we all know what F5 does as well.
I noticed your "Note:", but still I'd like to say that somebody has no idea what an Indian wants from a computer. These are some really dumb reasons. No offense to anyone who thinks not.
Earlier, in the days of windows 98, I was curious why some people were obsessively doing "refresh desktop". Later, I noticed that I too had started to do the same thing.
There is something that nobody in this discussion noticed. Many people in India are using desktop computers that are slow due to various reasons. Sometimes, some people who provide service etc. have to work on computers with various performance levels. If some windows application has crashed, or some background process is happening with no visible effect, the system becomes somewhat slow, and if you launch another application, it will be very slow to appear or the system might even hang.
When one refreshes the desktop, the icons flicker. There is a subtle difference in the interval between the action and this response according to the amount of background processes taking place. If the flicker response is instantaeous, one assumes that major processes that were cluttering the computer are over. If it takes more time to refresh, one waits, does the refreshing again and again and observe the decreasing response interval. Then when one finds that it is happening fast enough, one proceeds to do something. For many, this is an intutive process, not consciously thought about. (A process like subconsciously trying to inch the vehicle a little bit forward while waiting at the traffic signal. It serves to make sure that you are in first gear and can start as soon as the signal is green.)
This is especially obvious when you boot into a desktop with a lot of startup items, and the computer is rather slow in many respects, which often is the case in India. If you work on only one computer, you become accustomed to its startup time etc., but when you have to deal with many computers of varying performances, you are not sure how it will respond. So this method is helpful for servicing technicians etc, who are called in to fix a slow system. And for many common people, the are role models as far as computers are concerned. So the practice spreads more.
Whether this is specific to India, I don't know. But, this is one instant in which people practically, intutively find ways to deal with practical issues. The method spreads because it is effective in "real" situations. Some may retrospectively try to figure out why it is done and reach quite unscientific conclusions or explanations, like "it is refreshing the RAM" etc., which we know is not true technically. This is the difference between knowledge systems, one might say. A typical western, analytic logic will never find a scientific / theoretical justification for this practice. But an intuitive approach of common people sometimes finds its own successful ways of practice.
It's like the folk cures or ayurveda, the theory behind which is not justifiable according to criteria followed by western medicine, but which are very successful cures. On a cursory look, ayurveda also might have looked like rituals or superstition for the western logic. But it has evolved through practices, trial and error, intution, thought etc. which do not proceed by the "scientific method" of observation, inference, hypothesis, ...etc. etc.
Having written this, there is one thing that I can't explain. I too have the habit of highlighting text while reading from a computer screen, apparently with no reason. I think, as a person who used to read from books a lot ten years ago, I need to hold something in my hand to be able to concentrate on the page. Or perhaps it's the equivalent of some people using their fingers to trace the lines while reading with concentration. Or it could be the reflection of a predisposition to edit or correct the lines which one is reading!
All these practices, apparently irrational, cannot be simplistically dismissed as just ritual etc. They are interesting stuff for pondering about from the perspectives of sociology, psychology, politics, etc. etc.